Dating 101: Over, Saying Goodbye to My First Love
First loves. I bet that is not where you saw this going. Try being the one who didn't see the first love being "over." A few years ago, I wrote one of my very first blog posts about the heartache of a shattering breakup. My deepest well of emotions and hurt poured out for all to see. That took a lot out of me. But again, I want this blog to be about being in the thick of things, not having it all figured out and giving you the perfect answers. I don't know about you, but I don't have the perfect answers to everything. I can relate when someone lays open their transparent situations. I am not promising to have it neatly packaged. What I am promising is something genuine; it is learning life lessons along the way, and it hopefully ushers in the reality that you are alone. Our thoughts and feelings sometimes shame us into thinking we are the only one in what we are going through and that we should hide this crazy that lives in us. No. We are just human - wrangling emotions and life is far beyond what any of us can manage. I want us to walk alongside each other and watch as God unfolds His brilliant plans for all of us. If you can relate to the stories I share or have a few of your own, please leave them in the comments below. I'll pray over yours and ask you pray over mine.
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
I wasn't really sure how to address this topic of first loves. Especially given that it took time and wise counsel to take him from the love to first love. It still doesn't change the fact that over the past few years I so boldly proclaimed he was the one God had chosen for me...cringey. In college I had pitied the girls who made the same proclamation, now, I just want to apologize to each one and give them the biggest hug. Girls, if you are reading this, just know you are not crazy... or I am just as crazy...tbd. Either way, I feel you and I love you.
So what do you do when you come to this realization? For me, I'm turning to words.
I decided to write a letter:
June 14, 2020: Oh, first love, you were a category five hurricane. Whirling winds of passion. You were different. Our laughter never ended. Our conversations grew deeper. Oh, first love, you slipped in without me realizing it. You were unexpected. You didn't have the perfect lines or smooth moves. You were genuine and it eased the guard I had up against you. Against any romantic relationship. Without my consent, that guard vanished entirely. I was the most vulnerable with you. You saw all sides - the genuine, the broken, the loving. Love I have never possessed for someone. It was terrifying and invigorating to come to the realization of those three little words: I love you. Though so short, their roots ran deep like those of a mighty oak. I remember how I trembled when I first worked up the courage to tell you. Oh, first love, I was in love with you. I never told you when I first realized it. It was in a moment with friends. Each one of them too nervous to take the first run on the sled, down the slick street. You boldly took up the flimsy piece of plastic, and whizzed off around the curve like a "pengüino." That night, you led the way in fun and adventure. I remember thinking, "that's my best friend." Oh, first love, do you ever think back on our countless trips to small towns and big cities to find local, hidden gems? Even our simple nights of playing Connect Four and cooking together? Saturday morning soccer and big brunches? Those days are missed. Oh, first love, we had so much passion and our intimacy was of the best of friends. The secrets we entrusted with one another, nerding out on history, and our shared love for all things sports. Passion and intimacy: these two pieces were linked, incredibly in sync. All it took was a look across a crowded room to know what the other would think. That was one of my favorite things about us. There were a lot of favorites, actually. Oh, first love, as the psychologist, Sternberg, warned, passion and intimacy without commitment doesn't last. We sure found that out fast. The hard way. As much as we loved each other, our immaturities and selfishness kept commitment at arms-length. That hurt. It hurt more than I knew we were capable of afflicting one another. That's the thing about love, those who you entrust with your dearest vulnerabilities are the very ones who can devastate you the most. Some sort of twisted irony. Oh, first love, each time we fought, each time we hurt each other, each time we put ourselves through another vicious cycle of on-again, off-again, it drained me. I poured everything I had into "fixing" what wasn't mine to fix. Oh, first love, our ending knocked the wind out of me. Neither one of us knew what to do. I couldn't move. Endangered to drown in my own tears. Oh, first love, I was saved. A loving hand reached out. A familiar voice I had pushed out for so long spoke almost audibly. You didn't realize it the night it did. It was during one of our long post-breakup talks. There, in the midst of our wounding words, it said, "just wait, just wait." You couldn't hear it but I so badly wanted you to. The emotions from our situation had me feeling crazy enough without inaudible voices speaking to me. It closed my mouth and opened my ears. Oh, first love, that voice and that hand got me through the torment. The agony of losing you, my best friend. It wrapped me up when I longed to feel your arms around me again. It spoke truth into my feelings when I thought I absolutely hated you. It walked alongside me through every layer of forgiveness towards you. You didn't ask for that forgiveness. You didn't fight for me. You didn't try. But I spent every day intentional towards you. Fighting for your well being. Standing in the gap of what you did not know, or rather Who you did not know. Oh, first love, I do not say this to place blame or cast shame. We are way past that now and we both know the fingers can be pointed both ways. I am not here to call you out but to call you up. Oh, first love, our family and friends came through. They have stood alongside me in prayer over my heart and prayer for your good. At one point over 150 people in the course of two days were praying solely for your good. That is over half of Gideon's army. Did you feel something during those days? Have you felt different, something you can't explain, ever since? Oh, first love, your name is known. You are fully known and fully loved by Someone much more capable of loving us. More capable than how we loved each other, even beyond how our parents have loved us. Does that bring you relief? Oh, first love, thank you for our time together. The lessons from us are everlasting. How to communicate, how to love the other in their own ways, how to just be still with them. We stumbled our way through them, but we made it to the other side. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of qualities I want in a life partner. Your protectiveness, your intelligence and ability to teach me new things, your openness to all sorts of adventures, your goofiness, and one of my favorites: your sopes. Oh, my true First Love, thank you for this experience in its entirety. Thank You for being the voice that called out that night and the hand that reached out when I jumped the tracks. You never left me. You went before me like Moses (Deuteronomy 31:8), You walked alongside me like Joshua (Joshua 1:9), You covered me from behind like David (Psalm 139:5). And You still do. You stretched out Your arms where I could find rest from my ever racing mind (Matthew 11:28). Anxiety had me cardiac arrested, yet I had Your promise by prayer and petition (Philippians 4:6-7). Heavy fog surrounded my very being, but You sliced right through it, coming after me (Luke 15). By the grace of a mighty God so much more than my anger, resentment, hurt, and shame, You called me to love where I thought only animosity could live. You opened my eyes to the dangers of bitterness an ever-growing resentment. You encouraged me to choose love over and over again, 77 times, I do believe (Matthew 18:21-22). And now I praise You for establishing Yourself as the first and the only true love of my life so that I may finally live and live free (John 8:36).
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson